Dev Sethi — Head of Sports at Instagram on Launching a Sports MCN, Athlete Creators and NIL, and Metaverse Fandoms

December 15, 2021 by  Chris Erwin

Today we publish our 19th podcast episode. Links to listen and full transcript are below.

This interview features Dev Sethi, Head of Sports at Instagram.

We discuss being separated from his twin in highschool, his side door into sports at YouTube, launching the first sports MCN at Whistle, why NIL is this century’s most important breakthrough for athletes, why he left the incredible team at Complex for Instagram, and the metaverse’s impact on the personalization of sports.

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Interview Transcript

The interview was lightly edited for clarity.

 

Chris Erwin:

This week’s episode features Dev Sethi, Head of Sports at Instagram. So Dev was born in the DC metro area, the first generation immigrants from India. Then in high school, Dev’s life journey took a big turn after a traumatic family event and some wise words from a teacher which inspired him to become school president and captain of both the baseball and basketball teams. Dev then went on to Notre Dame, and soon after found a side door into sports media at YouTube’s new partnership. He then left to help build digital communities at publishers like Whistle and Complex. But after a heart-to-heart with his mom, Dev reverted course, and returned to big tech as head of sports at Instagram.

Today, Dev is shaping the future of sports fandom. Some highlights of our chat include being separated from his twin in high school, launching the first sports MCN, why NIL is this century’s most important breakthrough for athletes, and the metaverse’s impact on the personalization of sports. I’ve known Dev for over five years. He’s one of the sharpest and kindest minds in the digital verse, I’m grateful to help share his story. All right, let’s get to it. Dev, thanks for being on the podcast.

 

Dev Sethi:

Thank you for having me, nice way to spend my Wednesday afternoon.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yes. And appreciate it because I think you had some last minute dental work that was just done this morning, is that right? Can you still talk?

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah. I don’t know if folks are going to consume this entirely audio or even visual, but got last minute dental work done this morning so part of my mouth is still numb, Chris might see me drool out one of the sides of my mouth. But hopefully, I’m not slurring my speech too badly, and I promise you, if I am, it’s because it’s because of the Novocaine, it’s not because of any other reasons. Oh, here we go.

 

Chris Erwin:

Well, Dev, what I can say is I think you sound great, and I don’t think many of our listeners will be able to see the video, but you look great as well, as always. So you’re good to go for my book.

 

Dev Sethi:

Making me blush already. Okay, let’s do this thing.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right. So with that, Dev, let’s rewind a bit and let’s talk about where you grew up, your childhood interests and if there may any glimpses into what you were going to do in your sports media career from an early age, in some of our prep chats, you’re telling me about growing up in the DC metro area, is that right?

 

Dev Sethi:

That is correct. And it’s actually where I’m currently based as well, but grew up in Nolan, Virginia, literally adjacent to Washington DC. My parents are immigrants from India and that’s where they ultimately ended up settling. So I’m certain that folks that are listening to your podcast can sympathize with me being a long suffering Washington area sports fan, that’s basically epitomized my experience being a sports fan in this area, but grew up here and had a great time. It’s actually quite a diverse area, and for those who have been to Nolan, Virginia and the DMV overall, it’s changed quite a bit since I was a kid, it’s virtually night and day how much this area has evolved over time.

 

Chris Erwin:

Your early household, growing up, were your parents into sports, immigrating from India? Did they have ties to the US leagues, and sports programs, or international? What was that like?

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah, nothing prior to them arriving on these shores. My father was a sports fan and played sports growing up, but very different sports obviously in his own country than the US. But for certain listeners who I’m certain have had the same experience as I’ve had, but sports was and is an incredibly powerful way to assimilate into a new place, whether it’s a new community, a new state, or let alone a new country. And so my father quickly adopted American sports as an interest, a hobby, an enthusiasm. And again, for those who are familiar with this area as much, there is a thriving Indian community or South Asian community in the DMV. And one of sort of its rallying cries was and is sports.

 

Dev Sethi:

And so, I have a lot of great fond childhood memories of going to Washington watch parties, and when you’re showing up for Thanksgiving, the guys show up early, because they want to watch all three games on Thanksgiving before anyone starts feasting. And it just really was a big part of my growing up. And I think a great way for my parents to get comfortable in what was then an unknown environment for them, So it’s a really big part of, I think, my personal history as well as my parents history.

 

Chris Erwin:

And did you have siblings that were also consumers of sports as well?

 

Dev Sethi:

I have an older brother who is four years older. He’s not in this industry, so he will likely never listen to it so I can trash his athletic gifts. I think he played soccer and basketball but sort of gave it up early-ish in his life to focus on being more of an academic, which is why he’s a lot smarter than I am. But I also have a twin brother who is equally a sports junkie, a passionate fan of pretty much all things sports. And he and I played basketball and baseball growing up together, and we were watching sports ourselves. So a very big sports house so I like to joke that I missed out on all the Disney movies like Cinderella and all those kinds of movies Beauty and the Beast, I have watched virtually none of them because on Friday, Saturday and Sundays, we normally have a sporting game on TV.

 

Chris Erwin:

I’ve known you for a few years now. And I don’t think I knew that you were a twin. I’m also a twin as well. Did you know that about me?

 

Dev Sethi:

I did not know that about you, wow. Identical over fraternal?

 

Chris Erwin:

We are fraternal, but we look a lot alike. He took a very different career path than me, he’s in the military, 82nd Airborne at Fort Bragg, ranger qualified, so he’s just at a physical level that is well beyond where I’m at. But it’s funny, thinking of growing up with him, I grew up in my family, we didn’t watch a lot of sports, but we played a lot of sports. My brother and I were very athletic and active growing up. So when you said on Friday, Saturdays and Sundays, you weren’t watching Disney movies because you are consuming, my brother and I, we would get up at 6:00 AM and go hit the basketball courts at like 6:30 or 7:00 on a Saturday. As soon as it was like my parents were up and we were allowed to get out of the house. That was what was fun, was having a twin, you always had someone to play with.

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah. I don’t know if I saw those early hours on the weekends very often as a kid, but to your point, having a partner in crime in more ways than one, and someone who literally is an activity partner. It’s actually interesting for he and I, and he would attest to this, so growing up, I hated basketball and I loved baseball and he hated baseball and loved basketball. And you’ll appreciate this as a twin and with your parents, my dad said, “Well, tough shit. I’m not driving you all to a million different activities, you’re going to do these things together.”

 

Dev Sethi:

And so, we ended up participating in these sports together. And again, the irony of it all is that I love basketball now and played it through high school and then intramurals in college, and he played baseball through high school as well. And so just one of these deals where sort of the forcing function of, “Hey, this is sort of you’re a package deal.” And parents aren’t only chauffeurs, let alone when they’ve got two the same age that have various interests. But no, we played a ton of sports growing up, and to your point, hit the park and go play pickup together because you already got two out of the five people you need for a team, right?

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s funny you say that, Dev, because I still give my parents, to this day, flack for not letting me do travel soccer. I was really good. And they were like, “No, Sundays are for going to church and other family activities.” And I was like, “I don’t need you guys to drive me. I have other other friends’ parents that’ll drive me.” And I could have been this great star, but that’s a… I’ll leave the rest of that story for my therapist. A question that I have for you is you go to Notre Dame, and did you have an intent of getting into sports media when you were going to school and thinking about when you wanted to graduate or were you thinking about something else?

 

Dev Sethi:

I had, and I’m assuming I am like many former and current college students, where I really had no idea what I wanted to do for a living. And sports as a profession, as it were, was nowhere near my radar. The internships that I had in college, I think the closest experience I had to working in sports during college was an internship in SAP’s marketing department. And SAP was a sponsor of Ernie Els and Chad Campbell, who were two then prominent golfers me. Ernie Els’ just awesome and probably a hall of fame golfer, and that was the closest I got to sort of a sports experience in an internship in college.

 

Dev Sethi:

So yeah, to answer your question, I had no aspirations, I had no foresight or vision into how to even break into that. I knew I necessarily wasn’t going to go the path of wanting to be an agent or something like that, which would’ve sort of required a much different kind of education. I really just had the fandom of sports in college and really didn’t know what I wanted to do when I graduated. No better illustration than the fact that I was a marketing major but I was also an education minor, because I have a sort of a side, if not hobby, passion around the profession of education and the industry behind education, and it sort of uses a different part of your brain than taking business classes. So I had a number of interests, but really, no direction, I guess, when it came to career stuff at that age.

 

Chris Erwin:

So what you just said about your interest in the educational field and that you also, I think, did a minor there at while at Notre Dame, where do you think that stems from?

 

Dev Sethi:

I had some very influential grade school teachers growing up who I thought really shaped who I am today, and also, where I am today in terms of just how I’ve been able to sort of to grow and have somewhat of a tenure in this industry now. But I do think having had such a positive impact from those educators at the high school level.

 

Dev Sethi:

It’s funny, but the education minor, I needed to take some electives. And I took a course from a relatively new professor at Notre Dame and the course was actually called creativity in the classroom. Whereas you’re at business classes that have 50, 60, 150 people in them, and you’re using again, on one side of your brain, this class experience was incredibly intimate, it was maybe 12 people, it was focusing on a sort of a unique aspect of education in the classroom. I loved every second of it. And the professor, I thought, crafted the course in a way that wasn’t rigid, it actually had a lot of flexibility to who was taking the class. And she was a great listener herself, which I think is, I don’t want to say a rare trait for a professor, but I haven’t experienced many professors who are nimble in that regard in terms of how they shape their coursework in a semester.

 

Dev Sethi:

And so anyways, I fell in love with the experience of taking a class that was so different than what I was normally used to taking. And that basically became, “Hey, well, I took that in the fall. Let me take another education-related course in the spring.” And before I knew it, I was getting eligible for a minor, so.

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s amazing how intersecting with great people in your life, it could be a professor within the educational department that makes you then want to specialize, it could be someone, a founder, CEO at a company that then recruits you to their vision, or someone in the industry that gets you excited about transforming your career. I hear that, that’s an important to note is that these little human touches can be so transformational. Are you still in touch with this professor?

 

Dev Sethi:

I am. She’s actually, really, the only college professor that I remain in touch with, and she still lives around Notre Dame. And so, when I have the occasion to come back and visit, we’ll always grab dinner, or drinks, or lunch, or something like that. And I’m very quick to reiterate to her how important and influential she was to my experience, say in the same way an English teacher, who had never actually taught me, was instrumental in how I grew as a person and as a student in high school. And she’s actually, now that I’m back in the DC area after a long time away, her and I are actually grabbing lunch next Friday.

 

Chris Erwin:

Dev, speaking of this high school teacher which had a big impact on you, there’s a bigger story behind this that relates to the expulsion of your twin brother. Why don’t you tell us about that?

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah. I think I’m more comfortable telling this story because fortunately, my twin brother’s life wasn’t totally derailed by this expulsion and he actually works at meta now, which is kind of funny, so we’re technically colleagues even though I’ve no idea what he does for a living. But no, we were juniors in high school and he got kicked out of our high school 10 days into our junior year. And it was under somewhat controversial circumstances. My mother was pretty furious about the circumstances and she wanted me to leave that high school too.

 

Dev Sethi:

And it was this teacher, who actually had never taught me before, I had not taken one of her classes. She pulled me aside one day while all this was going down, she said, “Hey, can you come by my class after school for 10 minutes?” I was like, “Sure, why not?” I barely knew her. And she sat me down and she said, “I know this is a tough time for you and your family,” yada, yada, yada, “you don’t realize this yet, but this could actually end up being one of your biggest blessings in disguise.” and what she meant by that.

 

Dev Sethi:

And what I discovered and learned after I ended up deciding to stay at that school was, my experience in high school, my personality, just my being at that high school had always been inextricably linked to me and my twin brother. It was always Dev and Raj, it wasn’t just Dev or Raj. And she sort of was reiterating, you have a chance to essentially be your own person, and to carve your own path and pursue the things that you may want to do, and not necessarily always have that association.

 

Dev Sethi:

And she was dead on. I ended up doing things my junior and senior year that I never would’ve thought I would’ve done. I ended up running for and winning high school president, which, if you know my personality at all, that’s definitely not me. But sort of threw my hat in the ring, was captain of our baseball and basketball teams, did a number of extracurriculars. And it’s funny because by the time I graduated, there were hundreds of students who had no idea I even had a twin brother, which I think, again, reiterates my then teacher’s point.

 

Dev Sethi:

And so, just one of these sort of inflection points in my life where I don’t know if I would’ve made that decision had it not been for her, and someone who had literally no relationship with me but at least thought enough about my wellbeing and my circumstance to share with me her perspective, and it ended up changing my… I mean, I cannot overstate that, it literally changed my life. So I don’t think I would’ve gotten into Notre Dame had it not been because of that conversation, and all that stuff, and the things that happened, I don’t think I would’ve been on that same path at all. And I would argue my twin brother would acknowledge that too.

 

Chris Erwin:

Wow. That is an incredible story. We spend so much money on our college and graduate school educations, access to all these world class professors and teachers yet some of my most prominent memories in the classroom, date back to when I was in middle school. And I really remember very prominently, a US history teacher that we had, Mr. Galante, everyone who has gone through his classroom has stories about him. There was no one that was as passionate and cared so much about his students learning. The way he would describe the American Revolution or the civil war, it made every learning experience incredible and fun. In contrast to you, I’m really not in touch with many of my professors, maybe just one or two from business school that I kind of see on LinkedIn every now and then, but it’s pretty awesome that you’re able to maintain that.

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah. To your point, the fact that we’re talking about these educators, we’re dating ourselves, as I’m dating myself decades after they spoke, they last connected with us in the classroom, I think says everything and also I think it almost reiterates that education is a bit of a lifelong process. And I know that I’ll actually never stop learning from both of those people in any of the interactions that I have, but obviously, a bit of a different relationship now that I’m a full-fledged adult at least in some parts of my life, and you have different types of conversations. But I’m very lucky to have had those people in my life.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. Look, and I think what you just touched on is a broader theme of this particular podcast, Dev. You had mentioned the intersection of social and sport and just how fast this world changes on a weekly and monthly basis. So in talking about learning, it’s you have to keep your learning curve steep. You’ve been in this industry for many years now, Dev, and you’re in a senior role. And I think that people can say, “Oh, well, Dev knows everything that there is to know.” And it’s like, that’s not true. Things are literally changing on a daily basis. So I like that when we were prepping for this conversation, you’re like, “I acknowledge this, I’m the aware of what’s happening, and for me to be effective, and to guide a team, and serve as my talent and business partners best it’s like, I got to be learning every day and come in with a beginner’s mind, so we’ll talk more about that. I am curious, so what was your first role right after undergrad?

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah, it was this interesting experience where… and I actually already had a job offer fortunately lined up, going to my last semester of college at a very different company, doing a very different job. It was at the Aon corporation and it was actually doing human resources and communications. And so, that’s where I was ultimately going to spend my first years out of college, and this little company called Google decided they were going to show up on Notre Dame campus to meet with prospective candidates for an array of jobs they were hiring for, and this was back in 2006. And they came on campus, I was lucky enough to get an interview with them and it actually ended up being the worst interview I’ve ever given and I-

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay. We got to pause there. Wait, why was it the worst interview you’ve ever given?

 

Dev Sethi:

I’m not gaslighting anybody or anything, this is objectively the worst interview I’ve ever given my life. So they came on campus and I thought I was really smart having taken all of one psychology class during my college career. And I was like, “Oh, I’ll pick the last session of the day on their interview schedule because a recency effect, I’ll be the most memorable candidate,” yada, yada, yada. And I got a call maybe three hours before the interview from the interviewer saying, “Hey, we actually mistakenly booked our flights to leave out of Chicago, not South Bend. And for those who don’t know South Bend’s about, I think, 90 miles or 90 minutes from Chicago, TODR, we have to leave early to catch our flight so we have to miss your interview slot, how can we make it up to you?

 

Dev Sethi:

And I said, I actually wasn’t even feeling well that day. And I said, “Hey, no worries happens. Why don’t we just do a phone interview whenever you get back to Mountain View.” And we set up a phone interview, I had my twin brother and one of my best friends in high school visiting me in town that following weekend for a football game. And so, on a Friday, I get my car and I drive to some abandoned parking lot so I can take this hour long, two phone interviews, 30 minutes of piece. Well, Chris, I imagine you know this feeling because of what you do, who you are, and how expert you are, but the feeling that I had that maybe some people can relate to is when you’re talking for that long and you’re basically bullshitting on the questions they give you, but you know that they know that you’re bullshitting, that’s what the entire hour of this interview felt like.

 

Dev Sethi:

And I remember, and I kid you not, I hung up the phone. I drove back to my apartment with my brother and my friend were waiting. And I legitimately said that was the worst interview of my entire life, good thing I’ve got another job lined up. Let’s party and have a great time this weekend going to the football game. And I got a call back a week later from Google saying, “Hey, we’ve enjoyed our time together. We’d love to fly out to Mountain View for in person interviews.” And those, fortunately, went a little bit better and I got offered a job, but I still maintained to this day, to anybody who asks, that the only reason they gave me the opportunity to interview in person was because they felt so bad about canceling my first interview and so they gave me a second shot at it that went much better. But it was brutal. I mean, and that is exactly how it went down. And sorry, this is a very long-winded answer.

 

Chris Erwin:

No, it’s interesting.

 

Dev Sethi:

But yeah, no, so true story. And even to answer your original question, we essentially were interviewing for general roles within two parts of the org. One was AdWords, which is essentially Google suite of sales products and ad products, and one was AdSense, which was Google’s sort of publishing network and publishing tools. And so, I didn’t know until, I want to say, maybe a couple months or weeks before I started, what role I was even going to fulfill and hearing my mom’s voice in here saying,” Hey, it’s Google. You should probably try.” Okay. I’ll fly in a little bit blind and sort of see what these roles are about, see what that industry’s about because this is 2007 when, again, our world, an industry looked a lot different.

 

Chris Erwin:

Something I deal with daily and something that just talking to different founders and executives, they also deal with all the time is imposter syndrome. So when you say like, “Oh, Chris, because of your role, RockWater, you’re supposed to be an expert advisory firm. We’re talking like we advise a lot of the smartest clients in this space. And so then we’re supposed to show up and be smarter than them, that can put a lot of pressure on you.

 

Chris Erwin:

And so I actually flip that around in saying we’re smart, we’re thoughtful, but we believe there’s so much to learn from everyone that we do business with. And I think if everyone goes through life and goes through business with that mindset, that’s going to force you to be honest, and self aware, and give the best advice, and also learn the most to really understand where your clients and your business partners are at. And I think that’s what sets us apart. But Dev, I’m bad at interviews. I mean, I remember really, various bad had interviews from college, but in contrast to you, I actually didn’t get the job offer. There was no flying me out, so you clearly did something [crosstalk 00:22:56]-

 

Dev Sethi:

I still don’t know how off the skin in my teeth, I got offered a position at that company. But I hear you on imposter syndrome too, and to your point, there’s too much of where, I’m guessing is the case for you as would be the case for me, you could spend eight hours of your day just on Twitter reading about the industry, let alone participating in the industry. And so, you almost got to trust that information’s going to come to you and that hopefully, you’ve surrounded yourself with a network of colleagues, friends, individuals who can help share their perspective and thus cultivate your own perspective to a degree, because yeah, it’s too hard to keep up with it all. I mean, there’s so many things happening on a literally hourly basis, let alone a daily basis.

 

Chris Erwin:

So Dev, you are a strategist at Google for around four years, but then you made a transition to be a senior strategist and overseeing new partnerships and development at YouTube between 2011, 2013. So I think this is where you first began to focus in sports, entertainment, and lifestyle verticals, targeting new creators, and doing a few other things there. Was that kind of like, as you would call it, your side entrance or backdoor into sports media?

 

Dev Sethi:

Absolutely was. And now, as I’ve described it previously, a side door into the industry of sports so to speak, because I was at Google, I’d spent a number of years in their sales and consulting arm, which, unbeknownst to me at the time, actually has provided me a lot of great perspective about the industry I’m in just through a very, again, different aspect of the ecosystem and literally, the advertisers who were helping money into our ecosystem.

 

Dev Sethi:

But it’s about a little over half, I think, my tenure at Google there, one of my dearest friends who I’ve had the great fortune of working with a couple of times now, she mentioned that she had gone over to YouTube to focus on a different role actually within sports, and she said that the vibe just felt different, it felt a little more start-upy, interest points, verticals that I was sort of more keenly attuned to, whether it was sports specifically, or to your point, lifestyle relative to some of the clients I was working with on the sales side that, my last experience was in the finance vertical, prior to that, it was on an agency for portfolio business.

 

Dev Sethi:

So represented this opportunity, something different, and maybe even align a little bit with some of my passions. And that’s where I was introduced, again, to at the time and continues to be one of the leading social media/video platforms in the world, and starting to learn more about that part of the industry. And also, again, focusing on sports and working with individuals, organizations who were producing content that was applicable, if not a good fit, for our platform.

 

Dev Sethi:

But as you shared dates earlier, that was 2011 were our industry was in its infancy, I guess you could call it, even though it was only a decade ago. I joke that YouTube hadn’t even introduced monetization program when I first got there, a fully fledged one, Instagram was photo only, Snapchat didn’t exist, Verizon hadn’t spent a billion dollars on their own platform and their own content. All this stuff has come and gone in a relatively short period of time, and YouTube was in a much different place back then too, as was the industry, and thus, the conversations that I was having about that platform.

 

Chris Erwin:

I do remember because in 2012 is when I joined Big Frame. And that was, I think, recently, after Google and YouTube, I launched their Original Channel program, a 200 million dedicated fund to help fund better quality content on the platform to attract more advertisers. You were there during that period, so that must have been exciting. And I think that you were to see the different digital media brands and publishers that were being built from this funding and the complimentary seed capital that was being raised. And so I think, after Google, you decided, you’re like, okay, I’ve been at one of the largest video platforms, but now I’m going to transition over to work for these publisher brands. And so you left, I believe to go to Whistle Sports in 2013, what was the impetus for that?

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah, the impetus for me leaving the cozy confines, as I’ll put it, at Google and YouTube because there’s one thing that a company like that does, it really puts you in a comfort zone and really makes you feel like you’re enjoying the employee experience to a large degree. So the same colleague who shared the opportunity around YouTube because her and I actually started together at Google together. She had made the move to YouTube. She said, “Hey, you should check things out on the side of the aisle. I did, took a job there. She actually left to join this then small sports media startup called Whistle Sports. And she basically asked me if I wanted to come over and be her partner in crime and build this thing together. And at the time, what we were focusing on was being the world’s first sports-focused collective and multiplatform network, that was one part of the business.

 

Dev Sethi:

Another part of the business was sort of an analytics consultancy given you could gain a lot of meaningful data and insights about sports on digital and social through working with a collective and all the data they have on their audiences through social media, and then one part content brand, which I’m quick to say I had very little to do with, given the remit was really around partnerships and operations.

 

Dev Sethi:

But it was this interesting moment in time. And again, I know you’ll attest from your time at Big Frame where you have a ton of creators and organizations who are still trying to understand the value they can gain and extract from being on social and digital, what their content strategy should be, what their audience engagement strategy should be, how does that marry with other parts of their business, what are those best practices, what are the things that an individual content creator doesn’t have a muscle memory for, whether it’s sales, production, et cetera, how do you create value? And that’s what we focused on when I was at Whistle and doing partnerships and operations is big a real partner in their businesses. And hopefully, with a little bit of expertise having come from the walls of YouTube, but knowing that the industry was growing quite rapidly, YouTube was quickly becoming one of a number of platforms where people could build and monetize an audience.

 

Chris Erwin:

When you went there, was Michael Cohen working there, when you first started.

 

Dev Sethi:

Michael Cohen was a consultant at the time. And he and I got closely acquainted in the work that we were doing together.

 

Chris Erwin:

Yeah. Speaking of shared history. So Michael Cohen and I, I met him, I think in 2007, when I was interviewing at a boutique investment bank in New York City, and he was one of the guys that interviewed me. We got to know one another. Yeah, this is well before the MCN days. He left the firm, I left the firm, I went to business school. When I graduated, I ended up going to Big Frame. And I remember Michael reached out and was asking me like, “What’s this whole like YouTube, MCN, digital video thing that you’ve got into.” And he was picking my brain for a couple years. And then I remember when he made the move to Whistle and I was really pumped for him. Early on in his tenure there, as you guys were thinking about some different VOD strategies, he engaged our firm. I think that’s how I first met you, if I remember correctly,

 

Dev Sethi:

I think it was, we now have so many shared threads together, but I think that was the first introduction, was when either you had informally known him or even, he had formally brought you on to help consult for the business. But it’s wild how the scene’s coming full circle and now I’m on your podcast.

 

Chris Erwin:

To think back, all the shared history, how we’ve worked together and now you’re on the show. But I think that’s one of the beautiful things, if you were an early mover in digital video, just camaraderie of the people in this space and the shared war stories, it’s really fun. And it’s incredible how much history people have in such a very short amount of time because the space moves so quickly, but it’s also like it’s action packed and very intense, so the days, and the relationships just really fill up.

 

Dev Sethi:

I think you and I both get reminded probably on a daily, if not nearly daily basis, just how intimate the industry can feel. And because of these shared connections, these shared histories, I mean, folks who are member of VidCon when it wasn’t at the Anaheim Convention Center and it was the basement of a hotel, that, again, wasn’t very long ago, and just, again, a lot of that shared past.

 

Dev Sethi:

And actually, it makes me think ways in which I can pay some of that forward to some of my team members and other other colleagues, because for lack of a better term, you and I have been working with creators probably exponentially longer than most people today who are trying to tap into or engage the creator economy as it were. And you and I were working with these folks early days when that term barely even existed, and if not, was specific to a platform like a YouTuber as an example. And so, I think it just goes to show how far things have come, but also again, how shared that history can be and again, how intimate the industry can be. I don’t want to say we’re OGs because I don’t feel that way, but-

 

Chris Erwin:

I think it’s okay to say we’re OGs and I think this is not like patting ourselves on the back, but if you got into space in like the early 2010s, right around the Google Original Channels program, that’s pretty early on.

 

Dev Sethi:

Definitely. And like I said, when I was there, they hadn’t even created the full underpinnings of a monetization program, which the irony being fast forward to 2021, and they’re a leader in terms of social video and monetization. So to me, 10 years, it’s a long time, maybe the gray in my beard would indicate otherwise. One of the reasons I left those cozy confines was actually to force myself to experience this industry through a different perspective. And I don’t want to say you get a narrow lens working at a platform, but it’s very easy to view the world in one very specific way.

 

Dev Sethi:

And I remember talking to my boss at the time, great guy who I still have a close relationship with, and I was letting him know that I was going to make this jump to go from behemoth to small startup across the country because I also entailed to move from SF in New York, and one of the reasons I cited was I want to gain enough experience, ideally expertise, but enough perspective so that if I ever decide to come back, I’ll be able to deliver even more value to a YouTube having had the empathy of sitting across the aisle, across the counter, so to speak, and having really had my hands on this industry in a much different way than just the platform. I’m the provider, so to speak. Everyone’s coming to work for me or coming to work with me, they wanted to gain that kind of perspective.

 

Chris Erwin:

I think that experience at Whistle and then at Complex, which we’ll talk about in a moment, has really made you much better equipped for the job that you now have at Instagram. I think that’s very well said. Hey listeners, this is Chris Erwin, your host of the Come Up. I have a quick ask for you. If you dig what we’re putting down, if you like the show, if you like our guest, it would really mean a lot if you can give us a rating wherever you listen to our show. It helps other people discover our work and it also really supports what we do here. All right, that’s it, everybody, let’s get back to the interview.

 

Chris Erwin:

You’re at Whistle for, call it, nearly three years and then you make the jump to become chief of staff at Complex working under Rich Antoniello, who is incredible, and then also with the rest of their leadership team, including Christian Basler, who was also interviewed on this podcast. Again, what was the impetus for going over to Complex, and what was some of the work that you were doing there?

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah, and Rich and Christian are two of my favorite people. I’m very lucky to have crossed paths with them and had a chance to work with them. For I’m certain many of your listeners I’ve met them before, but if they haven’t, it’s worth trying to get some time with them because they’re just amazing people and brilliant minds in our space. The impetus wasn’t as straightforward as it might appear on my LinkedIn profile, but I actually left Whistle in the late fall of 201, and a big reason why I left was because I actually felt like I had given everything I had physically, mentally, emotionally to the job and to the team. And it was my mother who actually sort of called it out on a phone call. And she was like, “You seem like you’re always tired, you seem like you don’t have much energy for anything else and maybe you don’t seem as happy as you normally.”

 

Dev Sethi:

And I don’t think the happiness comment was a direct correlate to the work I was doing but first time in New York City, first time in a startup, I describe them both the same way. They are fun, they are exciting, they are intense, and they are exhausting all at the same time. And so, it was probably burning of the candle on both ends for a couple of years. And towards the end of ’15, I remember having a conversation with Michael and basically coming to the conclusion that if I didn’t want to be the guy who led my part of the company into 2016, then I need to do the right thing and hand this off and transition it and take care of the business and take care of myself. And so, I gave them, I think, three months’ notice. I transitioned my role, leading that part of the team to one of my very dear friends, close friends in my first hire at Whistle, his name’s Josh Grunberg.

 

Chris Erwin:

Oh, Josh is great.

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah, and I know you got the chance to meet him. Anyways, transitioned the role and then left New York and headed back down to the DC where I’m originally from and just really enjoyed my life for a year. My mother had been sick at the time, she’s fortunately much better now, but it sort of put things in perspective. And I wasn’t saddled with adult responsibilities like a mortgage or kids at the time, so felt like as good a time as I need to take a break, which had you asked me prior to that, would I ever leave something for nothing? I would’ve said, “No effing way.” But it felt like the right decision. I took that year off, did that for, it was almost a year and I was thinking towards just the fall of 2016, that I was ready to jump headfirst into work again.

 

Dev Sethi:

And it was actually a buddy of mine who shared that Complex was hiring, its chief of staff role. And I wasn’t married too whether I wanted to run a team or be an IC, and I didn’t really care about if I came back to New York or not, to be honest. But what I stated that were really important to me were one, working for somebody who could teach me something and who I could partner with and learn from, and the other sort of must-have was whether it was on a leadership team or in the front office, whatever the case would be, working with people with whom I could collaborate strongly, be influential, but also learn something from.

 

Dev Sethi:

And the reason I even used the word learning a couple of times is because, at times at Whistle, especially towards the end there, you really had to seek out learning opportunities because you could spend your entire day focused on your part of the business and there were some amazing, amazingly intelligent and talented people there who I was fortunately and sort of like through osmosis, able to learn from, but I knew in a new role, I wanted those things. And so, this guy said, “Hey, Complex is hiring their first chief of staff, you should put your hat in the ring.” I did, got a chance to meet Rich, we had two conversations and he offered me the job. Before I knew it, I was packing up my things heading back to New York City, so it all happened pretty quickly, to be honest.

 

Chris Erwin:

That really strongly parallels what Christian told me, which I think… He’s like a young media savant and I think he had been working at a European-based media company for like eight to 10 years. And then he was like, “I need to take at least a year off, I’m tired, I’m burned out.” Similar to kind of what you were feeling after Whistle where it’s like, “Hey, you’re going to take a year off.” But Rich reached out to him, I think called him, set up a coffee meeting and because Rich is so magnetic, he essentially, very quickly convinced Christian, like, “You’re going to come over to Complex and we’re going to build something awesome together.” And he didn’t end up really taking any time off, I don’t even think he took two or three months off.

 

Chris Erwin:

But I thought it was really thoughtful of you and I think this is a theme that keeps coming up more and more is maintaining your mental health and sanity, not only in your overall career but particularly in the industry which we operate in, which is digital media and entertainment, where it moves so quickly and things are changing so fast that, there’s concern that if you take time off, you’re going to miss the boat, you’re not going to learn, you’re not going to have an opportunity to step back into the ring. I don’t think that’s the case. I think that you actually need to refresh and energize because of how demanding it is, what we do, and I think it makes you better, better for it.

 

Dev Sethi:

Christian and Rich, again, they’re such good people, but Chris, this better than anybody, they are completely different. They could not be any different in terms of personality, which I think was amazing to actually see them for just partnership, where they recognized the strength in differing perspectives, different personalities, and how to operate the business. And I just thought it’s really cool, it takes kind of its own sort of self-awareness.

 

Chris Erwin:

No, I like what you’ve said. I think great leaders have to find where do they fill the gaps in their team and where do they find complementary skills and energies and personalities. Because if you’re just trying to replicate yourself, that’s not how you build towards a bigger vision and a bigger opportunity. Clearly, Rich has done that with Christian in building out the rest of the team. And I think about that often, we always tell our clients and my own team at RockWater, we’re not necessarily looking for well-rounded people, we’re looking for a well-rounded team. Now, in the beginning, you kind of have to have some basic functions that are covered by everybody when you’re lean and we definitely are, but as you grow, it’s a very different mantra. And I heard that when I was… I think literally my first day of business school and they described the types of candidates that they were looking for and why everyone in that room, sitting in this large hundreds of person assembly, they’re like, “You are a very well-rounded class because individually, all of you guys are incredible.” And that has always stuck with me.

 

Dev Sethi:

You’re reminding me of one of the things that I love sharing with the teams that I’ve managed, and the individuals I’ve managed, and that’s important to me, is how do you empower those team members’ voices? I’ve said whether you’re 23 and out of college with no work experience or 35 and have been in social and digital sports for decades plus, we all see what we do, our industry, what’s happening differently than anybody else and almost by sheer virtue of who you are and the life experiences that we all bring to these jobs. So if I’m as a manager, as a team leader, able to create an environment or a safe space for people to share, that’s how we’re going to get better, to your point. Well, maybe not well-rounded people, but well-rounded teams because you have diverse perspectives. And so, whether you’re that 23-year-old or you’re that 50-year-old, your participation, isn’t just appreciated, it’s really required in order for us to get better as teams, as organizations, et cetera.

 

Chris Erwin:

Very well said. All right, so Dev, so after Complex, I think you leave in around 2018 and you head over to Instagram, where you go over to become the head of sports. So tell us about, again, what caused that transition? What was your initial mandate when you went over there?

 

Dev Sethi:

There’s a theme about if you want to call this a career, so to speak, I don’t know if I call it that, but if there is a theme or a through-line, it’s one I’ve been the recipient of a lot of great sort of fortune and also the recipient of just great relationships that I’ve had because that job, as I told you with my colleague and friend who sort of helped recognize and identify opportunities for me, that happened twice, I was actually reached out to, by a friend of mine in the industry who had worked at an agency, Octagon, who I had kept in touch with over the years. He had been in Instagram and my predecessor, the former head of sports was departing for a different role at the company and this role was going to be vacant. And for whatever reason, weren’t going to consider my friend, so he basically said, “Hey, we’ve talked about working in the industry together, we like and respect each other, we could probably work well together, do you want to throw your hat in the ring?”

 

Dev Sethi:

And I did, and months later got a job offer to take on this role with very ambiguous title and perhaps even a more ambiguous remit, but one that was sort of mine to carve out to a degree. But even taking it back to my decision to leave YouTube, it’s funny because everything I told my then boss about the reasons I was leaving, came true in the sense that, I gained this, I would call somewhat unique perspective. Having worked at Whistle, having worked at Complex while having the tech background and then having it come full circle and join Instagram and perform this role. Those things did come true, just the only thing I changed was the employer. I didn’t go back to Google and YouTube, I went to Facebook and Instagram. And so, just kind of funny how that works out as far as the remit, the objectives of things I work on, I sort of like to describe it as really acting as a connective tissue between my company, its objectives, and priorities, and then the sports industry and its priorities and objectives. And how am I that connective tissue? How might that bridge be able to make those things work cohesively?

 

Dev Sethi:

And so, for Instagram as all well know, they’re focused on things like just being relevant to young people, to having people use their service, both as consumers, but also as creators, they care about products like reels and more broadly speaking commerce, even AR, VR to a degree, and they care about being meaningful to that creator economy, which I know we touched on earlier as well.

 

Dev Sethi:

And so, understanding those priorities and also understanding the unique priorities that live within the sports vertical, how am I able to marry those. And for sports, as you well know, the needs, the opportunities, et cetera, they’re different depending on who you are in that industry. What the NBA needs out of social media or is looking to do on social media is very different than what LeBron James wants to do or is very different than what Bryce Young at Alabama wants to leverage these platforms for. And so, how do I represent and advocate for those needs and interests, while also driving the objectives of my company? I view that as broadly speaking my remit. And on a day-to-day basis, it presents very, very differently on any given day.

 

Dev Sethi:

Talking yesterday with colleagues about how can we… for folks who don’t know there is another Olympics coming up in a few short months here, how do we work to empower athletes participating at the Winter Olympics, to be able to express themselves and engage their fans on social, in a very unique circumstance where the games are in China. So focusing on that to today, obviously, doing this podcast, but also working on an incubator to work with the next generation of athletes and creators at HBCUs, a very storied and proud and critically important part of our ecosystem within sports and college athletics. How do we work with those athletes at those universities, who, again, a community that’s largely been underrepresented, how do we work to equip, and empower, and educate them on the value our platforms can bring those athletes, especially in the era of NIL name image likeness, which happened on July 1st. So again, I guess my point is a gamut, focused on, it’s very broad at times, but largely speaking it’s, again, that sort of bridge between priorities and how can I be an advocate for what sports needs in order to thrive and flourish on social.

 

Chris Erwin:

It sounds like a very exciting, and as you described, a very broad mandate. There’s much more than you could do in a simple day’s time, so I think a question that would be helpful is, looking at the modern creator economy and thinking about the different partners that are out there. As you described, the NBA has a different need than say, LeBron James or different talent personalities, and then with also different events around the corner, like the Olympics being hosted in China and what does that mean for the Instagram experience here, for US-based creators and US-based sports fans? What are some of the things that you’re seeing that Instagram is actually building for, where like, “Hey, this is what creators want, or this is what consumers are demanding and we need to better support this need.” Can you give a few highlights of some examples of that work?

 

Dev Sethi:

I was just having a conversation with some folks at Endeavor, not even an hour and a half ago, and this term of creator economy, which I’m guessing, Chris, you’ll agree is sort of the buzziest term in our industry of 2021, in terms of how we’re thinking about it from an Instagram perspective… I’ll give you the sports example and then I’ll give you sort of the product example. The sports example is, the investments that my team has made in trying to empower the ecosystem around college athletes in the era of NIL. And for those who probably don’t know, NIL as an acronym stands for name image and likeness, as sort of a moment in time, as a value. It basically means that college athletes, as of July 1st, for the first time, by and large, could monetize their name, image, and likeness, which also extended to social media and the ability for you to monetize your audience, be able to work with brands, et cetera.

 

Dev Sethi:

And the true first in the history of college athletics, July 1st will go down as one of the most important days in the history of college athletics in my opinion. So from a sports perspective, how do we empower the ecosystem around college athletes, to ready themselves for this moment, by providing education, by providing resources, by providing incubators like the one I referenced earlier, to support this ecosystem in a world where athletes, especially youth athletes, can really be full-on content creators and embrace the totality of our platforms for the first time. And so, again, that didn’t exist seven months ago, and now, you’ve got to bite at the apple to illustrate the value an Instagram, or Facebook, or YouTube can provide to these athletes in an environment where they’re actually probably more interested and inclined to listen and learn than may ever have been before, because there’s a real economic opportunity available to them that wasn’t there before.

 

Dev Sethi:

So that’s sort of the sports perspective, and how I’m thinking about some of my objectives and things that are happening around us that we want to have some vision and strategy against. The other side of it, at least in terms of what Instagram’s focused on in the creator economy, a primary focus on safety and wellbeing, making sure that you as a creator, a user have a positive and safe experience on our platforms. And this year, Instagram has released a number of safety tools to help preserve that safe experience on our platform. Going towards new product development like the ability for audiences to tip their favorite creators during a livestream, which I know is probably more catching up the parody on some other platforms, but we know is an important part of a creator-user experience, in ways in which creators can monetize.

 

Dev Sethi:

We recently announced last month that we’re building essentially a branded content marketplace, where brands have the opportunity to discover creators on our platform and potentially do business with them right then and there. To have that occur on a platform, we know brands are spending their time looking for individuals to partner with, and creators are constantly looking for ways to gain opportunity and to stand out, us building a marketplace to do just that, something we’ve invested in recently.

 

Chris Erwin:

No, I really like that and thinking about, yes, Meta definitely has relationships with probably all of the largest brands, marketers on the planet, but something that Facebook has done really well is, enable really targeted marketing for these small and mid-size businesses that can’t necessarily afford the 32nd TV spot. So it’s like, “All right, you don’t have $500,000 to spend, but you got $10,000 to spend, you can run a campaign on Facebook, targeting the clients that make the most sense and are most relevant for your business.” And I like the idea that this marketplace would also enable the same, not just for running these paid media spots, but also for influencer marketing campaigns, but also something that you guys are really leaning into a lot, which is social commerce. Really enabling creators to sell product directly through the Facebook and Instagram shop product flows.

 

Chris Erwin:

And I think to do that, I think the brands and the creators need to come together and need a bit more support there. That’s something that we’ve written extensively about at RockWater is like, “What is this product gap?” It’s something that’s really holding back the launch of the livestream commerce market in the US relative to that of China. So I think that this marketplace idea that you guys have is a step definitely in the right direction. And particularly as Instagram has so many different social commerce and also these programming products, it needs to be fueled by more collaborations. A couple of quick questions before we get to the rapid-fire and close this out, Dev, so one, some big announcements around Meta recently. Massive reorganization, $10 billion commitment to building out the Facebook Metaverse or this new virtual experience for the Facebook users and community, what does that mean for sports media? What does that mean for the partners that you work with? Is that something that you guys have an idea on? Are you helping to formulate the vision? Tell us about that.

 

Dev Sethi:

To me, it’s exciting because, well, one, so much of this hasn’t been written yet, but the potential for what the sports experience could look like at Meta, on our own platforms in the ways that I just described, but also in the Metaverse, the world is everyone’s proverbial oyster in that regard, whether it’s evolving the co-watching experience from how we experience it on social media today, to a more virtual environment, where we’re able to co-watch a football game together, or we’re rather able to play a game together, or if we just want to express ourselves in a unique way, let alone the monetization possibilities. And again, I don’t want to speculate, but you can imagine the variety of ways in which monetization can come to bear in this new environment and participating in a Metaverse.

 

Dev Sethi:

I mean, again, I defer to the experts like yourself, who literally write newsletters on these sorts of things, but to me, it all means we can get really creative, our company, but the industry is going to get incredibly creative on that as it all comes to bear and who’s going to be positively impacted. And in terms of my job, I guess specifically, I get to ideally represent them more opportunities for how organizations and individuals can work with our company, because you have the inherent value of it, you work with Instagram, then you work with Facebook, and maybe there’s an interesting WhatsApp partnership, but it’s this tremendous again, sort of holistic opportunity for individuals and orgs to partner with sports partnerships or other verticals and other teams in ways that may have felt fragmented in the past but I think just generally speaking allows us to delve into different areas, and hopefully do some really cool things together.

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah, I’ve given you an example, the conversations even before I got here, with the NBC and the Olympics on Facebook and Instagram were very different in 2016 than they were in 2020. And now, imagine what those conversations look like in 2022 or 2024, and it’s because of the evolution of the technology, the evolution of the platforms themselves, and the ways in which the brands and individuals want to engage their fans, which is probably the most important through-line of the entire thing.

 

Chris Erwin:

It’s really interesting, I mean, that can be a whole separate show of just brainstorming, what does the virtual experience mean for sports fandoms of tomorrow? What younger generations want is the personalization of everything, personalization of watching sports, when, and how they want to consume it with the personalities that they care about. So you think about the in-person experience of being in the arena, being at game day, but how do you get that same excitement and energy level, but then also add to the experience of why people also like to watch sports from home, where they have their personalized social feed, and newsfeed, and maybe they have different camera angles that they’re watching from their TV and from their phone. How can you put all those exciting dynamics together in this virtual environment and then, in addition, give the fans tools to express their fandom in new and exciting ways?

 

Chris Erwin:

So the same way of like, you’re wearing the Jersey of your favorite sports team. What are some of the digital goods and digital fashion that you can express on game day and then maybe your outfit’s rotating between every play or every quarter? The ideas are just really endless and really exciting.

 

Dev Sethi:

Absolutely, I feel like we’re limited, I’m personally not being a very creative person, only limited by my creativity in the sense of everyone wants to point to a reference point, “Oh, this feels like it’s the sims or this feels like something that I’ve seen before.” Well, most of what’s going to get created, no one’s going to have necessarily seen before, the opportunities are essentially endless. And at the core of the metaverse and whoever participates in it, it’s still fundamental that it’s about communities that can connect with each other in virtual environments when they cannot be with each other in person. And that represents boundless opportunity, whether you’re the NFL, whether you’re trying to connect with your brothers in Savannah, whether I’m trying to connect with my twin brother who’s down the road, that’s still at the heart of it. And I think we’re just going to see that be expressed and developed again, in a number of ways, hopefully much sooner than later.

 

Chris Erwin:

Well said. All right, so before we move on to the rapid-fire, I just want to give a closing notice, some kudos to you, Dev. As the listeners have heard, I have known you dating back, I think at least four or five years now. We’ve stayed in touch. And something that I just really appreciate is how gracious you are with your time and how gracious you are with helping people understand and get excited about all of the work in sports media and digital. And I think I follow some of the feedback that you’ve given us on our newsletters, the feedback that whenever we have a chance to talk on the phone or on a Zoom chat and just tracking your LinkedIn feed, you really evangelize your work and the spirit of digital media in a very positive some way and it’s really appreciated. We’ve definitely noticed it, you have a demeanor that really points this whole industry towards a really great place and I’m really thankful for that, and I wanted to acknowledge that.

 

Dev Sethi:

No, thank you, I’d say you’re being way too kind and I’m certain that you deliver a lot more value to this industry than I do in the seat that you sit in and then what you’ve put together and run but I appreciate it. I think there’s many of us who have to rely on each other to continue to grow, educate ourselves, and collaborate because that’s just sort of how big and gnarly this industry is. And so, you’re obviously the center of the value that we all derive. And once you put together this podcast, and newsletter, the consultancy that you’ve built up, yeah, I just have a lot of gratitude for things that, frankly have broken my way, the core of it’s just been, hopefully trying to be a decent person, but also maintain great relationships like you and I, I think we’ve probably spent at least 75% of that first lunch, just shooting the shit on getting to know each other, 25% on the business stuff. I’d rather take that proportion, frankly. We get to things like today because we have, I think, a great base to build off of, so I’m deeply appreciative of getting to befriend you over all these years too.

 

Chris Erwin:

Very welcome, such from a guy who has such a powerful position in sports media. So, all right, with that, moving on to rapid-fire, here are the rules. Six questions, answers are to be short and to the point, so it could be just a single sentence or just a single word. Do you understand the rules, Dev?

 

Dev Sethi:

I understand them, I don’t know if I’ll adhere to them, but yeah, I understand them.

 

Chris Erwin:

Everyone says the same thing, but I’m going to hold you to it. All right, first one, proudest life moment.

 

Dev Sethi:

I’ve been offered the opportunity to speak a couple of times in front of students at my alma mater, Notre Dame and I never thought in a million years, I would ever do anything in my life or deliver that kind of value that my alma mater would ask me to support them and be of service to them. So that was a crowning achievement in my mind at least.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay, cool, what do you want to do less of in 2022?

 

Dev Sethi:

More sporting events, with hopefully a lot less disruptions and just more grace for, I think our fellow citizens who are all going through tough time but who all have such diverse perspectives. So hopefully more of that too. I’d say hopefully a lot less bad weather, but I don’t know if the weather’s even been that bad. So I don’t have a great answer for that.

 

Chris Erwin:

Okay. Less bad weather and disruptions in 2022?

 

Dev Sethi:

There you go.

 

Chris Erwin:

But I like what you said about more sporting events and the things that matter. What are one or two things that drive your success?

 

Dev Sethi:

I think having a great, talented bought-in team or teams that I’ve managed that make me look good. And also just having a personal passion in investing in my team, their career, their goals, and the enablement of them doing great work, that’s what gives me joint energy about this role and any other role and I think that’s equated to personal success as well.

 

Chris Erwin:

Advice for media execs going into 2022.

 

Dev Sethi:

Just continue to embrace innovation, whether it’s on platform innovation, some of the things I referenced earlier, but also the innovation in the sports industry. I mentioned NIL a number of times, but try to skate to where the puck is going. And also do it authentically, don’t sort of follow the leader all the time in this industry, make that set align with how you want to serve your audiences and what your core competencies are because no one media company should aspire to be just like another media company in my opinion.

 

Chris Erwin:

Very well said, I love that answer. All right, last couple, so you’ve gone from the big platforms, to the digital media publishers, back to the big platforms, I have to ask, any future startup ambitions?

 

Dev Sethi:

I have few entrepreneurial bones in my body. I’ve thought about starting my own consultancy. Honestly, I should probably just join yours, but-

 

Chris Erwin:

It would be an honor, it’d be an honor to have you join our rank.

 

Dev Sethi:

Yeah, I’d be able to listen in to stuff in general, but I think at the core, I just want to continue to be in roles that allow me to focus on strategy and also building great operations as well.

 

Chris Erwin:

Last one, pretty easy, how can people get in contact with you?

 

Dev Sethi:

I’d say LinkedIn, although my response times can vary dramatically, but LinkedIn’s a good way to hit me up. It’s spelled D-E-V, last name S-E-T-H-I. You can hit me up on Instagram, I’ll be remiss if I didn’t mention that, last name, first name S-E-T-H-I-D-E-V. Feel free to shoot me a DM. And yeah, those are probably the two best ways to get at me.

 

Chris Erwin:

All right, Dev, so that’s the show. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this.

 

Dev Sethi:

Oh Chris, thanks for having me, man, this is the best part of my week. Glad to spend my Wednesday with you and looking forward to rapping more offline, but above all, I also hope you and your family are feeling safe and healthy and getting to enjoy the holiday season.

 

Chris Erwin:

Thank you, Dev, same to you. I really enjoyed that conversation with Dev. He’s such a good guy and I just walk away feeling really proud that there’s people like that in our digital community. All right, so to close it out, a reminder that we love to hear from our listeners, so if you have any feedback on the show, any ideas for guests, you can always shoot us a note at tcupod@wearerockwater.com. And a reminder that wherever you listen to our show, please leave us a review and share the show on whatever social media accounts you have. It just helps other people find our work and really supports what we do. Last quick note, we are all so hosting a livestream commerce event, it’s an executive dinner, it’s going to happen in LA, probably on March 3rd. If you’d like to know more or are interested in sponsoring it, you can reach out at hello@wearerockwater.com. All right, that’s it, everybody, thanks for listening.

The Come Up is written and hosted by me, Chris Erwin, and is a production of RockWater Industries. Please rate and review this show on Apple Podcasts and remember to subscribe wherever you listen to our show. And if you really dig us, feel free to forward The Come up to a friend. You can sign up for our company newsletter at wearerockwater.com/newsletter. And you could follow us on Twitter, @tcupod. The Come Up is engineered by Daniel Tureck. Music is by Devon Bryant. Logo and branding is by Kevin Zazzali. And special thanks to Andrew Cohen and Mike Booth from the RockWater team.

 

 

Ping us anytime at hello@wearerockwater.com. We love to hear from our readers.

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